Homemade flamethrower leads to arrest of Kingsport couple

Rain Smith • May 16, 2019 at 11:58 AM

KINGSPORT — The fire department, police bomb squad and Department of Children’s Services all had a hand in a Kingsport couple’s arrest, triggered when the man conducted a “demonstration” of his homemade flamethrower.

According to an affidavit filed in General Sessions Court, the incident occurred shortly after noon on Monday. Kingsport police responded to 1160 Ward Place to back up members of the Kingsport Fire Department. They were alerted to a possible blaze at the home, and a neighbor reported hearing three explosions.

The resident, Dean Sparks, 37, told emergency responders that there currently was no fire, but he had been “doing a fire demonstration” for some friends. According to court records, police then spotted a “homemade flamethrower” lying in the yard.

Due to the construction and incendiary nature of the device, the KPD bomb squad responded to dispose of Sparks’ contraption. Officers reportedly learned that three children under the age of 9 lived at the residence but weren’t present at the time, then obtained consent to conduct a search.

“The conditions inside the home were extremely unsanitary,” the affidavit states. “Rotting food was left on the countertops and multiple propane tanks were located throughout the home.”

A city building inspector was called to respond to the home, which was quickly deemed uninhabitable. The property was condemned, while further police searches located pills. Sparks was arrested for reckless endangerment, three counts of child endangerment, simple drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Sparks’ children were placed in the care of the DCS. Their mother, Kayla Sparks, 29, was later located and interviewed by police. She reportedly agreed that the home was unsanitary and was also jailed on child endangerment charges.

Kingsport Times News Videos